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Warks. County Council prosecuted for employee injury

13/12/11: Warwickshire Council have been fined following an accident at Shire Hall in Warwick.

The HSE has prosecuted WCC after their heating contractor lost 2 fingers in an inadequately protected machine.

John Shields (T/A Shieldson Heating) had been checking a pump in the plant room at the council headquarters in October 2009 when his hand was dragged into the belt of water pump.

Two of Mr. Shields fingers had to be amputated beneath the first knuckle and has resulted in him experiencing constant stinging and tingling in his hand. He still needs to control the pain with medication, especially in cold weather which exacerbates the pain. Mr. Shields has not been able to return to work and is unable to carry out everyday tasks.

The HSE investigation revealed that the rear of the machine was poorly guarded and had dangerous moving parts exposed which didn’t conform to the legal requirements.

Nuneaton Magistrates were told that Mr. Shields, who had been employed by the council as a heating contractor for over a decade prior to the incident, had thought the pump was turned off.

WCC have been fined £7K and received a cost order for more than £5K after pleading guilty to breaching to H&S legislation.

A HSE spokesperson commented after the hearing that any employer, in charge of equipment has to make sure that all dangerous elements are sufficiently protected and it is not acceptable that WCC failed in their responsibility.

Mr. Shields sustained serious injuries which have impacted permanently on his life in an accident that could have easily been avoided had the council taken the necessary steps.